Good morning, Five Minute Families. It will be the beginning of garden season soon. Spring has begun. New seasons, new plants, new development. Is your family ready to enter into a new season of growth?
On Friday, I was at a women’s conference, and one of the other exhibitors was Josh MacLeod of Instruments of Joy. As he and my mother discussed theological issues, he shared the analogy of the acorn. An acorn planted does not grow immediately. It can take up to three years of all the right environmental components for the acorn to turn into a maturing tree, yet that tree will not produce more acorns until it is approximately 20 years old. Those early years are vital to get the seed to sprout, the sprout to root, and the root to establish well into the ground water. Yet, we do not want the roots to stay at the surface. The roots must grow down deep to reach into the water table, to establish strength for the storms that the exposed parts of the tree WILL experience.
Jeremiah 17:8 He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.
Psalm 1:3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
The acorn analogy and previous verses remind us of the concept we heard of years ago called greenhouse parenting. The Sayler family – a former homeschool family with five adult children – used that expression for illustrative purposes of their parenting style. In greenhouse seedlings, they are only kept in the protective shield of the greenhouse and its ideal environment as needed. The plants are still exposed to the necessary elements to give them further strength, and when the use of the greenhouse and natural environment have been used effectively, then the plants emerging permanently from the greenhouse are able to withstand the elements.
As greenhouse parents, we need to make sure our children have:
Proper nutrients. These proper nutrients are God’s word and our love. As Deuteronomy 6:5-7 states, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children.”
Proper environment. Just as the greenhouse provides temperature control, five-minute greenhouse parents must provide the proper balance of information. Ephesians 6:4 reminds us that we must bring up our children in discipline and instruction of the Lord, and we cannot do that by allowing every little worldly influence into our home. We must be discerning and wise.
Exposure. In a greenhouse model, plants are given exposure to outside elements as needed. Children raised in a bubble or hovered over – or for our analogy kept in the greenhouse at all times without any real-life exposure – will not grow deep roots. We do not want our children to be unfamiliar with the actual difficulties they will face, but we do it in age-appropriate ways to give them a chance to process and grow those roots deeper for the later strength they will need. Remember James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Protection. The greenhouse offers needed protection at the proper times. We have to be willing to be there for our children if or when they find themselves in an uncomfortable situation go, get them into a safe protective space, and then, begin the tough work of the greenhouse to help their roots grow deeper than they were before. Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” If God protects us, we should protect our children.
And, finally, freedom. Acorns grown into saplings are moved into the full reality of the world. SO, with the rare exception of children who have special needs who require care into adulthood, we five minute parents must be ready to move our well-cultivated, strong plants of children into the fully exposed world. As David Mathis of Desiring God.org indicates, we are not of the world but we (and our children) are sent into the world to share about the love of Christ.
We are told in Isaiah 61:3 that [if God’s people are faithful to Him] they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. Grow your acorns, five-minute families, and help them become oaks of righteousness. Be blessed!